Jason’s Articles

The original writings of Jason B. Fischer, MA, LPC (all rights reserved)

Understanding Threesomes

Relationships are the stuff of life. Quite literally, nothing in the universe exists that isn’t in a relationship to a whole bunch of other stuff, not to mention (indirectly) everything else in existence too. Of course, we homo sapiens, when we discuss relationships, we’re usually referring to the face-to-face, human-to-human variety, which are by far the most complicated of them all. In this article, I’ll explain what makes our interpersonal interactions just so mischievously difficult,  and what to do about all those threesomes in which we keep unwittingly finding ourselves.

[emaillocker id=3329]Never been in a threesome? Well, let me suggest that this isn’t exactly true. In fact, most of the encounters you’ve experienced in life, regardless of your sexual proclivities, have been threesomes. Take Sam and Samantha, for instance:

Screen-shot-2014-06-07-at-1.28.08-PMSam and Samantha are depicted here having a threesome–yes, even though there is no third person involved. You see, a threesome isn’t defined by the number of people present, but by the number of relationships. In this case, there are definitely three relationships present: the one between Sam and Samantha, Sam’s relationship to himself, and Samantha’s relationship to herself. It looks like this:

Screen-shot-2014-06-07-at-1.49.33-PMThree relationships! This is exactly why human interactions are so much more complicated than others that occur in the universe. The relationship between lichen and a rock is fairly straightforward, as is that between molecules, electrons, neurons, and books side-by-side on a book shelf. It’s the cost (and reward) of our self-awareness. Wherever we go, we take our relationship with ourselves–our internal friendship–with us. That’s why every interaction we have with another person amounts to a threesome. Now, why is this relevant, important, or even valuable for us to understand? Let’s imagine a scenario in which Sam is really upset.

Screen-shot-2014-06-07-at-1.27.25-PM

In all likelihood, Sam, in his state of upset, finds himself before too long getting into an argument with Samantha. Maybe he blames her for upsetting him, accuses her of doing something wrong, or just flat out starts criticizing her for whatever strikes his fancy in the moment. As a result, conflict between Sam and Samantha ensues, probably not unlike many other similar conflicts they’ve had in the past. As a couple, they deem from the discord that there is something wrong with their relationship to one another. Why do we keep fighting like this? There must be something wrong with us.

What Sam and Samantha have failed to notice is the complicated dynamic that occurs in threesomes. The real problem was never in relationship “1” (between Sam and Samantha), but in relationship “2” (between Sam and himself). How do we know this? Because Sam’s emotional self was the one originally in distress. As soon as Sam’s physical/rational self observed this, he could have addressed it, not with Samantha, but with himself. In truth, this emotional experience was 100% an internal matter that had nothing to do with Samantha (even if Sam mistakenly believed otherwise). Imagine going to the Department of Motor Vehicles to complain that your local supermarket stopped carrying your favorite cereal. That’s essentially what Sam was doing.

The bottom line is that, whenever you are feeling emotionally distraught (i.e., outside of your emotional comfort zone), this is definitely something to be addressed, but with the appropriate personnel. That’s you! Attend to the feelings you’re having and understand them for what they truly are, relating to yourself with the grace and compassion you would extend to a young child. If you’re kind to yourself, while being wise enough to comprehend the true root of your emotions (i.e. not giving permission), then you can repair the one relationship that’s not functioning well in the moment, rather than getting distracted by trying to fix the one that’s fine. Now comes the big finish.

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This may sound shocking, but consider this possibility, because it just may change the entire rest of your life. See relationship 1? There is never, ever, never ever ever, EVER, anything wrong with this relationship. Let that sink in for a moment, as well as its implications, if you can. This is surely not an easy concept to embrace outright and sometimes even I find it hard to believe, but it’s true.

Problems only happen in relationships “2” and “3”. Whenever you’re upset, that’s a relationship 2 issue. Whenever another person is upset, that’s a relationship 3 issue. And whenever you and another person are upset simultaneously and arguing, it’s because both of you are oblivious to the conflicts that are happening in relationships 2 and 3. You’re busy tinkering with the one relationship that is perfectly fine, while missing the one that could actually use your attention.

As I tell my clients, arguments only occur when two people lose their composure. If that’s you, then focus on relationship 2, rather than pretending that something’s wrong with relationship 1. If another person gets upset, then give them permission for this, knowing that they’re having some internal strife that would benefit more from your tenderness and understanding than from your reproach or defensiveness. Once you grasp how this fascinating dynamic works in real life, you’ll be able to savor the widest arrays of pleasurable threesomes. And wouldn’t that be grand…[/emaillocker]


 

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  • Lisa Reinhart

    This is such an amazing article. For years I have tried to understand this myself and have tried to explain this to my husband. This article has put it all to words that I was unable to do myself and I feel so lucky to have found this great explanation of how my mind works in regards to any relationship.

    • Jason Fischer

      I’m very pleased that you a) found it, and b) enjoyed it! The notion that there is never anything wrong in interpersonal relationships is a huge paradigm shift. I just wish the human race were fully ready for this type of awareness. Glad you are!

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